Ducks lose more than just the game.

Tucson – A fall from a lofty perch can be a long one, but the Oregon Ducks (8-2, 5-2) made a run back but came up short in losing to Arizona (5-6, 4-4) by a score of 34-24. The biggest loss of the game though, in a very ironic and eerie sense was when quarterback Dennis Dixon went down in the first quarter. Dixon could be lost for the year.

Two years ago, Kellen Clemons was lost for the season when he was injured at nearly the same spot on the same field.

The loss of Dixon, the Heisman Trophy Candidate, the team captain and the man that makes the engine run was instantly felt along the Oregon sideline. Like a sailboat that lost the wind, the Ducks were in about as much of the same doldrums.

"When Dennis went down I knew he was hurt because he's such a warrior and had to truly be injured to come out of the game," said Jonathan Stewart of Dixon.

Head Coach Mike Bellotti was pessimistic about Dixon's chances of coming back this season. Dixon had a bone bruise and a posterior capsule sprain from the Arizona State game and was wearing a brace for a reason against Arizona. At the start of the contest, Dixon was running and feeling fine. The senior quarterback had been cleared by doctors to play, wanted to play and indicated to the coaching staff that he was fine. One look at him writhing on the ground in pain was enough evidence that something more had happened.

"He may have aggravated the knee more," Bellotti said of Dixon. "I think he's done for the year would be my guess."

Dixon indicated that he doesn't know the extent of his injury and will find out more when doctors examine his condition tomorrow. One thing was for sure though, he didn't want to leave the playing field.

"I didn't (want to leave)," said Dixon. "I've worked so hard for this team and this team only. It's unfortunate."

While Arizona capitalized on Oregon's misfortune in the first half, the Ducks kept the Wildcats at bay in the second half only allowing a field goal late in the game. Unfortunately that field goal may have sealed the deal for Mike Stoops' team.

For the game, the Ducks amassed 463 yards of offense including 238 yards of rushing and 225 yards of passing. Stewart carried the ball 28 times for a game high 131 net yards. Brady Leaf was 22-for-46, 163 yards. Jaison Williams had eight catches for 120 yards while Ed Dickson had six for 44. Derrick Jones also had six catches for 24 yards along with 25 yards rushing on a reverse.

Arizona had 322 yards of total offense. Willie Tuitama was 21-of-39 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and gave up one interception. Nicholas Grigsby was the leading rusher with 53 net yards on 20 carries. Mike Thomas was the leading receiver for the game with six grabs for 125 yards and two scores.

Antoine Cason had an interception return of 42 yards for a touchdown and followed up with a punt return for a touchdown of 56 yards. Field goal kicker Jason Bondzio was 2-for-2 with boots of 32 and 46 yards.

Turnovers this year like last year were a killer for the Ducks. The Ducks gave up two interceptions (one for an immediate score and one that would lead to a score) and a fumble. The first interception the Ducks lost was in the end zone when the ball bounced off Derrick Jones' chest into the hands of Nate Ness. The second pick led to Cason's touchdown. The lost fumble occurred when the Ducks faked a punt on fourth down. The play was actually well executed as Kwame Agyeman ran the ball to the Arizona 20, but fumbled the ball and lost it in the scrum.

"It is tough, we gave up a touchdown," explained Bellotti. "We actually gave up two touchdowns on offense. We had one down here that went from a touchdown to an interception and a 50-yard return. We gave them the quick pick. The defense gave up a touchdown and special teams gave up a touchdown. That's hard to do on the road especially without a player like Dennis Dixon to rely upon to bring you back."

Agyeman might be excused though for losing the ball. While he did fumble the ball, he was able to get onto it and was holding on when he made eye contact with an official. The official told him to let go of the ball as it was going to go to Oregon. However another official over turned the ruling and the ball went to Arizona.

"I looked the referee in the eye and we had a conversation for about a minute," described Aygeman of the scene in the pile. "He told me it was our ball. He said, ‘white ball 30, get up, get up, it's your ball,' I took one of my hands off the ball and said are you sure and he said ‘yes.' The other guy over ruled him, the ref that told me to get off the pile (later) apologized. So it is what it is."

Bellotti indicated that he would report the incident to the Pac-10 offices because Agyeman told him the same thing when he came off the field after the play.

Are Pac-10 officials having more difficulty with calls this year? Bellotti wouldn't allow himself to be pulled into the ongoing debate hovering around the competency of the conference officials.

"That's your call, I'll let you figure that one out," responded to the question about the Pac-10 officials.

The Ducks dream of going to the BCS Championship game is over. However there are still two more games to play and Bellotti indicated that the offense now would be tailored around Leaf's strengths. Next week the Ducks travel to Pasadena to take on UCLA and following that is the Civil War against Oregon State back at Eugene.

"The national championship thing was fine while it lasted but the reality is we're always trying to get the conference championship and the very best bowl game and that's my concern," remarked Bellotti of the season. "We are going to UCLA next weekend, we got to go on the road."

In 2005, in the same stadium against the same team and nearly at the same spot, the Ducks lost Kellen Clemens for the season. The combination of Dixon and Leaf kept the Clemens' led team on course. Now it is up to Leaf to do the same for this team. The Ducks still have a very good shot at the conference championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Notes: Bellotti also mentioned that Aaron Pflugrad sprained his ankle during the game.

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